Sunday, August 10, 2008
Fight to Live, Live to Fight
Around 400 BC, there was a culture called the Etruscans, who laid claim to some land that didn't belong to them. You see, the Celts, my people, were living there, and they kind of had a problem with these interlopers. The Celts began harassing the Etruscans, who decided they needed a little help. The Etruscans turned to the Roman Empire for some extra muscle. The Romans joined the fight against the Celts; it must have seemed like a good idea at the time.
What the Romans failed to realize was that my people view battle as a sport. We never really go looking for trouble, but it somehow always seems to find us (at least that's what I always told my mother). Once that line has been crossed, though, we have a habit of coming together and destroying our common enemies without pity, mercy or consideration. The Celts gave Rome and the Etruscans a lesson in ferocity and ass-whupping they never forgot. In the end, the Romans actually paid a tribute to my people be left alone....PLEASE!
Two years ago, cancer picked a fight with me, and I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Regular readers of the Fish-Blog know my story and have been instrumental in my survival. "My people" came together: I was incredibly blessed to have a strong family, an incredible team of doctors and nurses, and a group of friends who supported me in ways I never would have or could have imagined. You visited me, cooked for my family, cut my lawn, delivered care packages, e-mailed me, prayed for me, and supported me in my fight. Importantly, I have learned cancer, and more importantly surviving cancer, is about people coming together.
Last year, we formed Team Fish and went to the LiveSTRONG Challenge, a 100-mile bike ride in Philadelphia, to raise money to fight cancer. It was at once one of the most difficult and most amazing things I have ever done. Difficult because it was about 100 degrees with Pennsylvania's legendary humidity (if it's not hazy, hot, and humid, it's not August). Amazing because of the incredible outpouring of support I received and the people I met along the way. (You can read about it here: Part I | Part II | Part III.
I was the very last person to cross the line of the 2007 LiveSTRONG Challenge. Yet I can still hear the P-A system announcer saying: “NOW CROSSING THE LINE, NUMBER 468, ROBERT DUFFIELD. SURVIVOR!” And I am a survivor. My prayer when I was diagnosed, and the one I say for survivors every day, is for the Courage to fight the disease, the Strength to beat the disease, and the Dignity to do it with Grace.
Last year, my friends and family helped me reach almost $2,000 in fundraising. Most of the gifts were small -- $20.00 and less. You have no idea how quickly that adds up. I had no idea how quickly that adds up. Along with that, my friend Kurt made BUTTUNZ! to pass out along the route. Mrs. Fish and Little Fish made shirts for the people who came out to support me so I could see them in the crowd. In short, I was humbled by the spirit and generosity of people.
All that to say, if you're in a place where you can offer a gift, and you want to join me in my fight, I would appreciate it beyond words. Also, if you have someone for whom you want me to ride, either in their honor or in their memory, you can tell me their story in the comments area. Last year, I had the honor of riding for a lot of people who were very special to my supporters, and their spirit bore me up in amazing ways. I think it's important to know their stories.
My homepage for the Challenge can be found by CLICKING HERE.
Thanks again for everything...oh, and if you're in Philadelphia and you want to join my team, you can do it by CLICKING HERE.